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Best Wood For Smoking Ribs – Apple, Cherry, Hickory, and Mesquite

If you are in a hurry and want to find out what the Best Wood To Smoke Ribs is then we would recommend the Western BBQ Smoking Wood Chips.

As all barbecuers know — beginners and experts alike — smoking is often more of an art than an exact science. Many smokers prefer to have their own “recipe” for the perfect smoke, and this recipe can depend upon hundreds of variables. 

Chief among these are the species and cut of wood you choose to use in your smoker. I’ll introduce you to the best wood for smoking ribs that I’ve found during my backyard smoking adventures below. 

Here is the list of best wood to smoke ribs:

The Art of Rib Smoking

Rib smoking is much different than your usual day-long smoke of a roast or brisket. Because ribs don’t have all that much meat on them, you only need to smoke them for a minimum of about two hours. Because they’re so easy to smoke, they’re a great place to start for beginners. 

Which wood you decide to use to smoke your ribs depends on your smoker and your meat. Are you cooking pork ribs in a large smoker? Consider buying applewood logs. Are you cooking just a few beef short ribs in a stovetop smoker? You might find more success with hickory chips. 

As such, the wood you use to smoke your ribs should get the same considerations as any other smoked meat. How long do you want to smoke your ribs for? The longer you need to smoke them, the better off you’ll be with large wood chunks, since these burn for longer. From there, all you need to do is pick the wood flavor you think will pair best with your ribs. 

Our Best Wood for Smoking Ribs

Depending on what kind of smoker you use, you may rely upon one type of wood product to do your rib smoking. Smaller stovetop smokers, for example, run almost exclusively upon pellets or chips, while larger models can often use anything from wood chips to whole logs.

Once you know what size you need, the last thing you need to do is decide what flavor you’re looking for. You’ll probably need to go through a bit of trial and error before finding your “perfect smoke” as I did, so don’t be afraid to shop for several different types of wood. 

Western BBQ Smoking Wood Chips

If you don’t quite know which wood species is your favorite yet, the Western line of smoking chips is a great place to start. This particular set that I’m reviewing contains a variety pack of the best wood chips for ribs in apple, cherry, hickory, and mesquite, but they sell single bags in your preferred flavor as well. 

All in all, these chips are high-quality and work well, but they’re undeniably expensive. If you can find them for sale in a store close to you, you’ll be glad you went out and looked, as the price can be marked up significantly online.

Essentially, the variety pack of these wood chips is just four separate bags boxed together in one. You may be able to get the same pack (or a different combination of wood flavors) for less if you can find them locally. 

However, even though these chips’ online price is a bit high, I really can’t complain. The company sells a high-quality product, and the price will be worth it to many people (myself included, on my lazy days) for the convenience of having them delivered. 

Pros: 

  • Consistently high-quality wood chips
  • Comes with four popular flavors to choose from (or mix and match)

Cons:

  • Only comes in one size (180 cubic inches)
  • Expensive

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Oklahoma Joe’s Wood Smoker Chunks

If you have a relatively large smoker and you’re not sure what size of wood to use, chunks are a great place to start. They’re more versatile than full-sized logs, but they also burn significantly longer than wood chips. Oklahoma Joe’s wood chunks are very inexpensive, too; unless you plan to buy full-sized logs in bulk, you won’t be able to beat the price.

Unfortunately, availability for these chunks can be a bit spotty. They come in hickory, mesquite, and apple, but they all might not be available simultaneously. If you can get your hands on them in the flavor you want, you can get a decent amount of them (they come in eight-pound bags) for a reasonable price. 

Pros: 

  • Inexpensive
  • High-quality wood chunks
  • Ideal for larger smokers

Cons: 

  • Only one size available (eight pounds)
  • Difficult to get the wood flavor you want

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Camerons Smoking Wood Chunks

If you need wood chunks, but you’re looking for something with a bit more availability and options than Oklahoma Joe’s, consider these chunks from Camerons. While these wood chunks are noticeably more expensive in the ten-pound size, they’re about the same price if you can manage to snag your favorite wood species in bulk (the 20-pound size). 

While Camerons has many more wood species to choose from (in total, you can pick between alder, apple, cherry, hickory, maple, mesquite, oak, and pecan wood), they’re not all available in the 20-pound size — this is where you’ll see the price go up a bit. 

Unfortunately, the quality of these wood chunks does tend to vary. I’ve received excellent bags of wood chunks from Camerons, but I’ve also received mislabeled bags, bags with more sawdust than wood, and wood that looked like it had been sitting in dusty conditions for years. 

It may have something to do with purchasing them online through shady retailers — you might have better luck finding an in-person retailer so you can check the quality of these before you buy. However, as long as you can find some way to guarantee a good-quality bag of wood chunks, you shouldn’t have any other issue with this product. 

Pros:

  • Many wood species to choose from
  • Several bag sizes available
  • Bulk sizes are well-priced

Cons: 

  • Few species available in bulk
  • Product quality can vary wildly

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Smoak Firewood Cooking Logs

If you have a bit more room in your smoker, bulk purchasing cooking logs is one of the most inexpensive ways to get smoking wood. If you’re the outdoorsy type, you can even cut them into chunks yourself or make your own wood chips out of them. While this is a more significant time and effort investment, it gives you more control over the cut, size, and quality of the wood.

Smoak is just one company that’ll sell you cooking logs in bulk. They only have four wood types for sale — hickory, maple, red oak, and white oak — but they sell in bulk sizes up to 70 pounds. These cooking logs are the most affordable option, pound-for-pound, in this lineup. 

While you can always buy bulk wood at any hardware or lumber store, Smoak firewood is explicitly prepped for cooking. As such, most of the bark is removed from the logs, and the wood is thoroughly dried to produce a better smoke. If you’re looking for a great all-around choice and don’t mind potentially breaking down your own wood chunks, this wood is an excellent option. 

The only thing to consider is that the price advantage of buying these logs goes down as you choose smaller box sizes. I would still recommend buying a small box to start to make sure you like the product, but after that, it only makes financial sense to buy these in bulk. 

Pros:

  • Clean, high-quality, kiln-dried logs
  • Inexpensive (when bought in bulk)

Cons:

  • If you need chunks or chips, you’ll need to break down the logs yourself
  • Smaller box sizes aren’t as well-priced

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Traeger Grills Hardwood Pellets

Pellets are an exciting option to use for smoking. They’re incredibly versatile, and while these pellets are made to be used with Traeger grills, they can be used for other applications, too. The beautiful thing about hardwood pellets is that they’re appropriate for large and small applications, from indoor stovetop smokers to full-sized models. 

As one of the industry leaders in pellet grilling, you can expect Traeger pellets to be high-quality. All in all, they deliver on this promise, though in my experience, some flavors are better than others. The applewood flavor I’m reviewing here, for instance, is very mild; some smokers might even find it too bland for their purposes. 

Pellets are a very inexpensive way to power your grill, but they aren’t suitable for all applications, and they burn much faster than chips or chunks, too. And finally, note that Traeger’s pellets are not pure wood pellets. If you read the packaging, you’ll notice that these are advertised as a “hardwood blend” instead of pure applewood. 

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Versatile
  • Available in virtually any flavor

Cons:

  • Pellets are hardwood “blends,” not pure woods
  • Burns faster than other wood cuts

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Final Thoughts

So, what’s the best wood for smoking ribs? Because ribs cook so quickly, you can find success with virtually any wood species and cut. However, which wood is best for you depends on how much you’re willing to spend and how much work you’re ready to do.

The Western BBQ Smoking Wood Chips are, for most people, the best wood for smoking ribs. They come in many flavors, excellent quality, and ready to put into your smoker. If you can find them locally, you can get them for a great price, too.

However, if you’re an avid smoker who’s willing to do a little more work, consider the Smoak Firewood Cooking Logs, too. Buying these logs in bulk is the best way to save money, and by purchasing them as logs, you can use them whole, cut them into chunks, or even break them down into wood chips. 

While both sources will give you the same end product, the Smoak firewood gives you a bit more versatility at the cost of a bit of effort. 

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